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Obama warns against ‘loose talk’ of war on Iran

AIPAC convention US president says bluster on military action helping Iran, argues for giving economic sanctions chance to work. Yashwant Raj reports.
Hindustan Times | By Yashwant Raj, Washington
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2012 11:53 PM IST

President Barack Obama sought to mollify critics of his Iran policy saying Sunday all options remained on the table, including the use of military. But he cautioned against taking too harsh a line. “Loose talk of war” could, in fact, help Iran,” he said at an American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC) convention.

The Obama administration has been accused by some critics, including the Republican presidential hopefuls, of taking a soft line on Iran, and not showing enough support for Israel.

His message on Sunday was clear: he doesn’t believe in containment, he wants to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, using every option available to him. “I have said when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say,” Obama said. Obama received Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu Monday, and the tough talking at the AIPAC convention will help the president find a better equation with the Israeli leader.

The two don’t share a chemistry and Netanyahu has not hesitated to air their differences publicly specially a peace initiative by Obama that is now dead and gone. On Sunday, Netanyahu welcomed Obama’s speech in a statement issued shortly after his arrival: “I appreciated the fact that he said that Israel must be able to defend itself.”

The US has slapped a series of unilateral sanctions on Iran —over and above those by the UN—and has pressured other countries, such as India to cut economic ties with Iran.

Economic sanction, the president said, was one of the options. Two of the remaining were political—to isolate Iran; diplomatic—sustain the coalition formed to keep Iran under pressure. And the fourth, which got him the loudest applause: the military option.

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